2012 IndyCar Series: All You Need to Know About the Grand Prix of Baltimore

James WilliamsAnalyst IIIAugust 31, 2012

Baltimore is set for the grand prix
Baltimore is set for the grand prixRobert Laberge/Getty Images

OK, you are coming to Baltimore and this is your first Grand Prix. What do you need to know?

First, you need to know that your best mode of transportation in and out of the downtown area is the light rail. There are plenty of trains and you can get to any area in the city where the race is from one of the downtown stations.

Things begin today with the key events being the IndyCar practice runs taking place at 2:45 through 3:45 p.m. ET. The American LeMans Series practice will be from 4:05 p.m. to 5:05 p.m. ET. Then things get very interesting.

The American LeMans qualifying starts at 5:10 p.m. and finishes at 6:20 p.m. ET with all of the classifications being set for Saturday’s race.

That brings me to an important point; many people come to Baltimore and either don’t know about the American LeMans Series race, or they simply skip it. Huge mistake, do not skip the race; it's an outstanding chance to see cars like Acura, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Mazda, Panoz, Peugeot, Porsche and Saleen.

Thanks to the AMLS, here is a brief overview on how to watch the race. 

They are big cars and are easy to see, so from a fan's standpoint, this is a perfect race to watch on a street course like Baltimore because there are four different classes of cars racing in one race.

The Saturday start for the American Lemans Series race is 4:30 p.m. ET. If you have a tablet or a smartphone, you can watch the race from your seat on ESPN3 or the Watch ESPN App.

A delayed taping of the race can be seen Sunday at noon ET on ESPN2 .  

Earlier on Saturday, from 8 a.m to 8:40 a.m., is the Indy Lights practice. For those who don't know about the Indy Light Series, they are a step below the IndyCar Series and a good chance to see some young drivers that will be coming to the IndyCar Series soon. The field will qualify Saturday at 11:05 a.m. with the race coming Sunday at 12:40 p.m. ET.

The final IndyCar practice session happens from 9 to 10 a.m. with qualifying coming at 12:05 p.m. ET. The Grand Prix of Baltimore will start Sunday at 2:45 p.m. with NBC Sports Network airing the prerace show live at 2 p.m.

A tip for all race fans: The live radio broadcast on the IMS Radio network can be heard locally on 105.7 FM. take a radio, or you can access it from the CBS Radio App on your smartphone or tablet.

The IMS broadcast crew do an outstanding job of covering the race, and if you are in the stands listening to the race on either your radio, smartphone or tablet, it will make it easier to follow the action.

Drivers to watch includes Will Power. Many will recall that he won last year's race, and barring some major mistake, he should be able to wrap up the drivers' championship. However, he will be pushed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who sits in the second spot ready to take advantage should Power faultier.

Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan are all cars worth watching during Sunday’s race. Be sure to either get a program or download the driver’s page from the IndyCar website to know the numbers, but more importantly, the colors of the cars. It will make easier to spot from the grandstands.

Many people ask me where the best place is to watch a street race. Well, my secret is to watch from a seat in a turn. The cars are slowing down to make it through the turn, so you can see the cars and the drivers better. Also, I like to sit across from the pits. Take your binoculars so you can see the great work done by the crews.

If you can’t be in Baltimore, here is your TV, radio and broadband information.

NBC Sports Network Saturday IndyCar qualifying will be shown at 6 p.m. ET. Then on Sunday they will show both the Indy Lights race at 12:30 p.m. and the Baltimore Grand Prix pre-race show at 2 p.m. ET.

Radio will be the on the IMS Radio network or on IndyCar.com.

You may want to bookmark this on your smartphone or tablet for use in Baltimore throughout the weekend.